Have you ever tried your hands at embroidery? Whether you have had hands on experience with it or not, you might have noticed how much patience, diligence and focus it requires. Embroidery almost seems like meditation! For our Orient inspired Pinterest Friday, we decided to scout images of some of the most beautiful pieces made using the Japanese embroidery technique.
Japanese embroidery technique (also known as nihon shishu in Japanese) goes back more than 1600 years. Originally, it is believed to have been only used for decorating items used during various religious ceremonies. Over time, its used evolved and Japanese embroidery started serving a more artistic purpose. According to historians, from the early Heian Period, Japanese embroidery was primarily used for decorating costumes of the Ladies of the Court. During these early stages shishu was only available to a select group of the highest ranks of society as only they could afford such costly work. However, after a thousand years, with efforts from various influential masters, this cultural heritage is now available to a much wider audience.
Image: Me Me Craftwork on Etsy
There are over 40 different techniques to create the appropriate stitches that match the intricacies of Japanese embroidery. A desirable pattern is first imprinted on a silk fabric, following which, colorful silk and metallic threads are then used to stitch within the boundaries of these patterns. Elaborate training is often required to learn correct Japanese embroidery techniques, as there are several unique tools and materials used. Japanese embroidery motifs and patterns are also very distinct, commonly depicting natural themes, including cherry blossoms, turtles, chrysanthemums, ferns, and other imagery that has special significance and spiritual meaning in traditional Japanese culture.
Left: Old Japanese Quilts from unknown source | Right: Heel Guards from Munahome
Sashiko embroidery is a very old form of hand sewing using simple running stitches. The Japanese word Sashiko means “little stabs”. Sashiko was born from the necessity of conserving and repairing garments at a time when cloth was not widely available to farmers and fishermen. Sashiko has been considered as functional embroidery or a form of decorative reinforcement stitching to repair points of wear or tears with patches. Today, this running stitch technique is often used for purely decorative purposes in quilting and embroidery.